Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon has used a speech in Parliament to launch an extraordinary attack on the NSW Government.

Mr Fitzgibbon has accused the NSW Government of “playing politics” with the official opening of a bridge in his electorate.

The new $28 million bridge over the Hunter River in Aberdeen was fully funded by the former Federal Labor Government.  Yet Mr Fitzgibbon only received an invitation from the State Minister Duncan Gay on Wednesday afternoon to attend the opening of the bridge on Friday morning.

Mr Fitzgibbon says that at the end of a parliamentary sitting week and with that sort of notice, it is impossible for him to attend.

Mr Fitzgibbon told the Parliament that he wrote to Mr Gay as soon as he received the invitation and was told the date is a matter for the Commonwealth Minister.  But Mr Fitzgibbon says that while this may be technically true, the Commonwealth Minister simply approves the date put forward by the State Minister.

Mr Fitzgibbon told the Parliament that the RMS and the State Minister would have known the date for weeks and expressed great disappointment at what he said appeared to be a “childish and discourteous political game”.

He said he wouldn’t demand a change of date because that would only disadvantage his electorate.

Mr Fitzgibbon then took the opportunity to criticise the NSW Government for its performance in the Hunter on a range of fronts including: • The poor return of the proceeds of the Port of Newcastle • The location of the proposed new lower Hunter hospital • The failure to only belatedly designate the Cessnock and Maitland LGA’s for eligibility for Resources to Regions funding • Its failure to sufficiently provide certainty for the coal industry through the planning regime

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